6 New Restaurant Concepts Reimagining Fast Food and Casual Dining

The restaurant industry has witnessed tons of trends in the last few years. Virtual kitchens have been on the rise, online ordering is reaching new highs, pet-friendly cafes are now a thing…we never know what’s going to come next in this vibrant and constantly evolving space.

And while it’s always refreshing to visit restaurants and cafes with new, unique concepts at their core, some concepts stand out among the rest. In this article, we’re going to uncover 6 new restaurant concepts that reimagine fast food and casual dining as we know. These concepts are environment-friendly, cater to the tastes of millennials and Gen Z, and are slowly shaping the industry into a whole new space.

High-quality food, built with high-quality ingredients, served at high speed

“By Chloe” has been among the most popular names in the vegan world for a while now. Its decadent menu features tons of traditional dishes with environment-friendly substitutes. And while their plant-based food is absolutely delicious, that isn’t the only highlight at this fast casual restaurant. Dining here is an instagrammable experience like no other! All of their offerings have a beautiful presentation, vibrant colors, and have been highly optimized for social media. The interior design is picture-perfect. As more and more people make “foodstagrams” and the use of food hashtags grows every day, the importance of impressive presentation simply can’t be ignored- and this restaurant gets it! Their Instagram is an aesthetic grid filled with bright bursts of color, mirroring the happy, lively dining experience they offer their customers.

Less environmentally damaging, and still palatable

Vegan meats and animal product alternatives have grown in use for a while now. As the general population becomes increasingly aware of the environmental impact made by animal products, a large number of people are choosing to switch to plant-based lifestyles. Even renowned restaurants that have been in the industry for years are now choosing to go vegan, such as New York’s Eleven Madison. ‘Beyond Meat’ is known for its plant-based meats. Their burgers use drastically less water, land, and energy than traditional beef burgers. The restaurant is vocal about its mission to improve human health, animal welfare and positively impact climate change. This cause resonates with people all over the world and has gradually led to the acceptance of vegan restaurants.

New artisan food

‘Blue Hill at Stone Barns’ is a restaurant that prides itself on its connection with the land it is built on. It is set in a space that was once a cow barn, and has now transformed into a restaurant known globally for its contemporary food, whipped up from local ingredients. The farm’s produce is highlighted in the cuisine offered here, all coming straight from farm to fork. It is also known for its artisanal jams and organic granola. In 2016, Eater termed this rustic place as the best restaurant in the US. The restaurant has achieved praise for starting conversations about sustainability in the restaurant industry.

Food kiosks

Grab and go food options are all the rage nowadays, as more and more restaurants strive to provide maximum convenience to their customers. This concept isn’t entirely new, given that hot dog stands and coffee carts have been common for a while, but it definitely is expanding. Today, exotic foods such as sushi or a Lebanese wrap can also be found at food kiosks. These foods are usually associated with traditional dining experiences but now cater to the whims and fancies of the time-starved generation of today. Miso Ko, a popular sushi kiosk in Atlanta, is a beloved grab-and-go sushi stop. It allows customers to embrace Japanese cuisine over a quick bite and strikes the right balance between convenience and the conventional dining experience.

Robot chefs

While it might seem ultramodern, robots with culinary skills are actually in demand right now! With the COVID-19 crisis and social distancing norms being enforced, robot chefs seem like the perfect solution for food safety. Social distancing in a small kitchen is challenging with multiple sous chefs and kitchen workers, but robot chefs are here to do their bit. AI helps these chefs ensure the right food consistency and coordinate various kitchen processes. A robot chef might seem like a mere novelty today, but it could become a necessity in the future. The CaliBurger chain uses the assistance of Flippy, their robot chef that can flip burgers and cook fries. Restaurants such as White Castle have also experimented with the use of robot chefs to automate their kitchens and make the whole process more optimized and safer.

High tech drive-thrus

Drive-thrus have skyrocketed in popularity since the pandemic hit. This one-stop solution is the perfect fix in today’s world where contactless pickup is a necessity. Over time, drive-thrus have grown smarter and more optimized with the latest technologies. Major fast food chains such as Arby’s, Dairy Queen, and Taco Bell have boasted of successful drive-thrus for a while, but more and more establishments have embraced this business model in the last year. Starbucks and Chick-fil-A make use of video ordering, where staff can communicate with customers using tablets. These digital drive-thru screens help optimize the ordering process and lead to shorter wait times. It also adds a personal touch to ordering, while making room for social distancing. Starbucks makes use of AI named “Deep Brew” which suggests food items and beverages to customers, based on location, weather, and time of the day.

If there’s one thing we can learn from these 6 contemporary concepts, it’s that going out for a casual dining experience is no longer limited to just burgers and milkshakes! Your friendly neighborhood café could now give you a futuristic experience you dreamt of in the past, while your go-to diner could help you remain true to your diet.

As these new-age restaurant concepts force their competitors to think out of the box, we’re going to see more and more creative enterprises in the future. It’s fresh, unconventional, and paves the way for a brand new definition of casual dining.